Agrarian Justice by Thomas Paine (1795)

Written on February 26, 2017. Written by .

In 1795, Thomas Paine wrote a pamphlet containing an introduction to the foundational principles of geolibertarian political philosophy. This was 84 years before the publication of Henry George’s “Progress and Poverty”. Although Paine’s proposed remedy seems oversimplified and potentially problematic, his motivation is much more compelling.

“Civilization, therefore, or that which is so-called, has operated two ways: to make one part of society more affluent, and the other more wretched, than would have been the lot of either in a natural state.”

“In taking the matter upon this ground, the first principle of civilization ought to have been, and ought still to be, that the condition of every person born into the world, after a state of civilization commences, ought not to be worse than if he had been born before that period.”

“It is a position not to be controverted that the earth, in its natural, uncultivated state was, and ever would have continued to be, the common property of the human race.”

“Cultivation is at least one of the greatest natural improvements ever made by human invention. It has given to created earth a tenfold value. But the landed monopoly that began with it has produced the greatest evil. It has dispossessed more than half the inhabitants of every nation of their natural inheritance, without providing for them, as ought to have been done, an indemnification for that loss, and has thereby created a species of poverty and wretchedness that did not exist before.”

Agrarian Justice (Wikisource)

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